Travel Yogyakarta (Jogja), Java Guide

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Travel to Yogyakarta is a must as it is one of the places to visit Java, Indonesia. It is also interchangeably known as Jogjakarta or Jogja, or Yogya (you decide!) by travelers and locals alike. Of all the places you must visit in Java, this is the one place you cannot miss.

Yogyakarta is packed with all the intricacies of a good travel place with hidden treasures of bygone days, narrow alleys and main streets of delights, a vast array of delicious food to try, arts and cultures dotted everywhere, and rich histories. Most importantly, it is near to two of the largest ancient temples of Buddhist and Hindhu, both equally magnificent and humbling in its way. Being a city of half a million people, Yogyakarta is further packed in with travelers from around the world, thanks to its tourist attractions. Come here and find out what it means by truly traveling Indonesia.

Map of Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia

Map of Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia

 

Where is it

Yogyakarta is located in Central Java, just slightly to the south, with

Why go

Come here to discover the two ancient temple which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Indonesia – a foreboding unique circular Buddhist temple Borobudur and a magnificent legendary Prambanan. Not to mention the city is filled with arts and cultures and rich in history with Kraton Palace and the Water Castle. Plus, the food here is the epitome of Javanese cuisine. The people are nice and the place is well-connected with the Transjogja bus.

Borobudur at Central Java Indonesia

Borobudur at Central Java

 

When is the best time to go

The best time to go to Yogyakarta would be the dry season, which is generally April to October, so you can get the best out of your time without rain dampening your activities. But it is still possible to travel in the rainy season for it usually only rains in the evening so you can still do everything during the day. The day starts early here, with the city bustling by 6 am.

What to see

Being one of the top tourist places, Yogyakarta has many tourist attractions around the city. Here are some of what I thought were the best tourist attractions you must see in Jogja.

Prambanan – well known ancient Hindu temple built in the 9th century for Trimurti as an expression that God is the Creator (Brahma), Preserver (Vishnu), and also the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound lies just 18km east of Yogyakarta and can be easily reached with the Transjogja public bus, which is the cheapest and best option to visit Prambanan. It is one of the Indonesia UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of Southeast Asia’s largest Hindu temple architecture.

Reading at Kraton Palace, Yogyakarta

Reading at Kraton Palace, Yogyakarta

 

Kraton Palace– This is a palace from the days of the Sultans of Yogyakarta, with its own unique architecture and many heirlooms of the glory days. Be sure to get a guide to walk you through the palace (it’s free) so that you will understand and appreciate better the history and culture of Jogja.

Taman Sari (Water Castle) – This castle is a massive complex that served as a former royal garden of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta, and it has various functions, including a surreal bathing place. The blue pool stands starkly against the pink buildings making it almost surreal.

Candi Sambisari – among the many Candi (temples) scattered around Yogyakarta, this one stands out as it used to be buried five meters underground for hundreds of years until the first slab of stone was discovered in 1966, and it had been slowly reconstructed since then. Moreover, it is a good stopover on the way to Prambanan.

Bathing pool at Taman Sari, Yogyakarta

Bathing pool at Taman Sari, Yogyakarta

What to do

Shopping – Shopping in Yogyakarta will be a delight with the likes of shops along Jalan Malioboro and Pasar Beringharjo that offers so much of Indonesian goods like rattan products, silver jewelry, food, household items, and handmade products.

Golf – Many tout that this is the finest place to play golf in Indonesia, with the famous 18 holes golf course located at the slopes of Mount Merapi. You can enjoy the scenic view of the mountains while playing golf, somewhat of a golfer’s paradise. The international firm Thomson Wolveridge & Perret designed this famous golf course.

Golf with Mount Merapi as backdrop, Yogyakarta

Golf with Mount Merapi as backdrop, Yogyakarta

Best Accommodations in Yogyakarta

Booking.com * is a good choice as most of the bookings can be canceled right up to the trip, allowing flexibility. While Agoda.com * has one of the most extensive listings in Asia with great deals.

In Yogyakarta, staying in the city center would help to save time in visiting all the must-visit places, but if you are looking for also some relaxation, just a little off center to the north or south are some great choices. Here are a few of the best accommodations that we recommend for staying in Yogyakarta:

Luxury (from 150 USD)

  • Rosseno Villa For those who want tranquillity and privacy, this villa lies just 15 minutes south of the city center, surrounded by rice fields. It comes with a private pool, all meals provided, and all-day use of a car and driver! Well worth the splurge here.
  • Phoenix Hotel – McGallery by Sofitel Run by the well-known Sofitel, this hotel is for those who want luxury in the center of Yogyakarta. The hotel’s interior comes with a blend of grand Asian and European decor, with the rooms terraces overlooking a courtyard and pool.

Mid-range (50 – 150 USD)

  • Novotel Yogyakarta For those who seek a well-known brand and comfort, this hotel is located strategically to visit tourist attractions. You can expect clean, modern rooms with a wide range of delicious breakfasts. It also comes with a pool. Definitely value for money.
  • Dusun Jogja Village Inn For those looking for a nature getaway and some tranquility, this hotel is like an oasis in the middle of the city. Surrounded by tropical gardens of palm trees around a beautiful pool. It is also well located, just south of the main attractions area.

Budget (below 50 USD)

  • Griya Wijilan Just nestled next to the Keraton Palace; this small and Javanese-designed boutique hotel is for those who know a good deal. The location is hard to beat! There is also a lovely terrace and garden for those who hang out to rest in between the hustle and bustle.
  • Rumah Mertua Boutique Hotel For those looking for a boutique hotel that combines comfort with the budget, this hotel comes with Javanese-decorated rooms and a pool surrounded by romantic gardens. It is a 20-minute drive north of the city center in a tranquil setting.

What and where to eat

Gudeg – touted as the City of Gudeg, this dish is a must to try. It is a unique Indonesian dish a stew made from young jackfruit (nangka) with palm sugar, coconut milk, meat, garlic, and spices. The special taste came from the slow melding of flavors and textures to perfection. Get a taste of gudeg at the longest-standing establishment – Gudeg Yu Djum.

Ayam Goreng – also famous for its fried chicken/ Free range chicken, is melded with flavors of garlic and coriander and then fried to perfection. A place to try this is Ayam Goreng Mbok Berek

Gudeg Yu Djum, Yogyakarta

 

Gudeg Yu Djum, Yogyakarta

 

Nasi Langgi – it is something that locals eat most of the time, warm rice served with various dishes you can choose your own. Get them at the small stall on Gandekan Street.

Angkringan – used to be sold by people using a hopper as storage, now it can be found in restaurants. This humble dish consisted of a small serving of rice with sambal wrapped inside a banana leaf. The most popular angkringan is Angkringan Lik Man, also known as Angkringan Tugu, as it is located near the Tugu station.

Kopi Joss – don’t forget to try out this Javanese espresso dipped with burning coal, Indonesia’s answer to a good old coffee.

For a slightly higher budget but worth it, you should try out Gajah Wong. I have to say the food here is up to standard, and I might even go as far as naming it the best restaurant in Yogyakarta. You can find the finest Javanese cuisine here. If you are at the right time, you may also be accompanied by the Javanese gamelan music performed live.

Food at Gajah Wong, Yogyakarta

Food at Gajah Wong, Yogyakarta

How to get there

By flight
Fly into Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto International Airport, just 8km east of town, it is one of the very convenient airport hubs. Garuda serves frequent flights here and connects to Denpasar a few times a day. Other Indonesian domestic airlines also fly here from Jakarta, Denpasar, Surabaya, and other major cities. International flights like Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines fly to Yogyakarta from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Air Asia also flies from Singapore to Yogyakarta.

How to get around

Taxi – most taxis here are metered and usually trustworthy compared to Jakarta. Most fares around town would not cost more than 15,000 Rp.

Becak (Trishaw)
One of the novel ways to get around Yogyakarta is on a Becak, in which you can feel the city as you go by. Remember to haggle the price before getting on.

Becak (trishaw), Yogyakarta

Becak (trishaw), Yogyakarta

 

Bus
The best bus to take here is Transjogja, which connects nearly every corner of Yogyakarta and even up to Prambanan. Look out for the bus stops scattered around the town to get on one. For the routes, you can always ask the attendant at the stop for assistance. A single trip usually costs around 3,000 Rp. When you are ready to get off, either flag at the driver/helper or else knock on the windows as the locals do.

Ojek (motorbike taxi)
Many people are walking around, especially on Malioboro, who would want to serve you with their motorbike; remember to haggle for the price before getting on any. It is a good choice to avoid traffic during rush hour.

Car
You can always rent a car with a driver here, driving is not recommended with the crazy Indonesian traffic. Rental may vary around 400,000 Rp for a full day.

Transjogja and its bus stop, Yogyakarta

Transjogja and its bus stop, Yogyakarta

 

Where to go nearby

Borobudur– 1-hour drive from Yogyakarta, this 9th-century temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and is one of Indonesia’s UNESCO Heritage sites. It comprises six square platforms with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. Thousands of Buddhists make their pilgrimage here in Borobudur during Waisak day.

Surakarta (Solo) – a nearby town famous for its Batik.

Parangtritis beach – the nearest beach to Yogyakarta; the locals flock here during the weekend.

Surabaya – the next major city from Yogyakarta; here, you will use it as a springboard to many other places with the second major airport of Indonesia. You can also make your way to Mount Bromo from here.

Prambanan  at Yogyakarta

Prambanan at Yogyakarta

 

Travel Tips

Stay safe here as petty crimes are rampant such as pickpocketing, especially on the local bus. Also, watch out for many scams that prey on tourists here, the most famous is the one that tries to get you to see how students make batik in an art center and then tries to sell to you at crazy prices.

Photo credits from top: Burmesedays, Rachel (x4), yudha aria putra, Rachel, Rachel, viajar24h.com, Bowo Prasetyo and Rachel.

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